Hershey’s Perfectly Chocolate Chocolate Cake and Perfectly Chocolate Chocolate Frosting

Some of the best recipes are on the back of boxes. Quaker has a great oatmeal cookie recipe on the back of their box. Libby’s has their famous pumpkin pie recipe on the back of their can. So of course you’d expect Hershey’s to have a fabulous chocolate cake recipe on the back of their box and they do.

The Hershey’s “Perfectly Chocolate” Chocolate Cake is a scrumptious chocolate cake. It’s chocolately, rich, moist, and delicious. Perfect for beginners. It’s nearly as easy to make as a box cake and it tastes so much better than a cake mix cake. You’ll wonder why you haven’t made it before. I know I did.

I mentioned in my Queso Bacon Burger post I was hosting a BBQ/birthday party and every birthday party needs a perfect birthday cake. I needed two cakes for our crowd. (I’ll post the Tropcial Carrot Cake recipe next week.) I love this picture of the birthday girl with her cakes and my daughter and soon to be born grandson.

For those who don’t like veggies in their cake, I decided to make chocolate cake. But not just any chocolate cake, the Hershey’s “Perfectly Chocolate” Chocolate Cake that I’ve seen posted dozens of times with rave reviews. I was a bit surprised when I read the instructions. After the batter is mixed, you add one cup of boiling water which creates a really runny batter. After baking though, it has a perfect texture –  not too heavy not too light. It got great reviews from my crowd too.

I made a couple high altitude changes to the recipe because at my altitude cakes can be temperamental. I used the great guide Bonnie, City Home / Country Home, posted last year to modify the recipe. Just a few simple tweaks can make a big difference when baking cakes at altitude.

I’m sure I’ll be baking this back of the box cake again. Do you have a favorite recipe you got from the back of a box?

Hershey’s Perfectly Chocolate Chocolate Cake and Perfectly Chocolate Chocolate Frosting

Yield: 12 - 16 servings

Hershey’s Perfectly Chocolate Chocolate Cake and Perfectly Chocolate Chocolate Frosting


  • 2 cups minus 2 tablespoons sugar*
  • 1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup Hershey's cocoa
  • 1-1/4 teaspoons baking powder*
  • 1-1/4 teaspoons baking soda*
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons milk*
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • Perfectly Chocolate Chocolate Frosting:
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine
  • 2/3 cup Hershey's Cocoa
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour two 9-inch round cake pans. Set aside.

Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; With a mixer, beat on medium speed for about 2 minutes. Carefully, stir in boiling water. The batter will be very thin. Pour batter into prepared cake pans.

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely. Frost with chocolate frosting.

*Before high altitude changes: 2 cups sugar, 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder, 1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda, 1 cup milk

Perfectly Chocolate Chocolate Frosting

Melt butter. Stir in cocoa. Alternately add powdered sugar and milk, beating to spreading consistency.

Add small amount additional milk, if needed. Stir in vanilla. About 2 cups frosting.


slightly adapted from Hershey's.com


Vanishing Oatmeal Raisin Bars, Mangio da Sola
Libby’s Pumpkin Pie, The Food Librarian
Peanut Butter Blossoms, How Sweet It Is

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    Leave a Comment:

  1. Hilary says

    Hi, I have made this cake every year for my daughters’ birthdays, last year we had just moved to the Denver area and wow what a surprise! Cake all over the inside of the oven! So I found this recipe and tried it, it worked better but the cake had lots of holes and overflowed a bit. This year, I read the comments and see that there are further changes for my altitude, thank you! Going to try it today! :)

  2. Monica says

    My all-time favorite (and my kids’ favorite) recipe from the back of a box is actually a Hershey’s Brownie recipe which I haven’t seen in years, but I’m so glad I kept it when I did! Baking brownies at high altitude seems to work better for me with cocoa rather than unsweetened baking chocolate, which I had been using.
    I found this page when I was looking for a bundt cake recipe (I will try yours without the cream cheese swirl this time, next time with it- sounds yummy!) and wanted to add my 2 cents. I used to always use box cake mixes until I found the recipe on the Hershey’s box. I live around 6200 feet, so my recipe is pretty close to yours except for the following differences, which I’ll post in case it helps someone someday:
    1 3/4 cup sugar
    1 7/8 cup flour
    1 tsp baking powder
    3/4 tsp baking soda
    1 cup milk

    All other ingredients stay the same. I also like to include 2 Tbsp Hershey’s Special Dark Cocoa in with the cocoa measurement. I have had good results with both 9×13 and two 9″ rounds. The top never looks too pretty but that doesn’t matter when it’s upside down or covered with frosting! I also grease the pan then dust with cocoa, and use parchment paper on bottom. People might check out Susan Purdy’s book Pie in the Sky; she has variations for different altitudes for lots of recipes she tested in various locations.

  3. Ayesha says

    I tried this cake twice.. both times it had tunnels all over it and it sank in the middle.. I also tried making it in cupcakes and there was no dome, cupcakes were all flat.. what went wrong?

    • says

      Hi Ayesha – my guesses are overmixing, opening the oven door while the cake or cupcakes are cooking, your baking powder/soda isn’t fresh, your oven temperature isn’t accurate, or your cook time could have been too short.

  4. keith says

    I enjoy your site.

    We have been making Hersheys perfectly chocolate cake for 20 or 30 years. You are right it is a great cake. However if you want to make it an awesome cake reduce the cook time. We cook it 27 or 28 minutes. We take it out when the toothpick comes out with moist crumbs sticking to it. It takes it from being very good to being awesome.

    Have a nice day

  5. D. Klassen says

    We live in Calgary Canada, so i made the high altitude version and it was delicious. For some reason it took about 15 extra minutes to bake but when I took it out of the oven, it did not fall (which is what always happens when I make cakes). My husband does not usually eat dessert but he had a second slice! Success! Thanks for the recipe.

  6. Stacey E. says

    Thanks for posting a high altitude variation for this cake. I just made it today, was shocked at how runny the batter was, and ended up with a cake that overflowed the pans and didn’t cook completely. I will try making it again following your version and see what happens. Oddly, the cake really is wonderful, even though I have to scrape it out of the pans. I have never had an edible homemade cake before. I don’t know if it’s because I used cake flour, or if they really invented the best scratch recipe.
    I actually came across the recipe looking for something else and just assumed it would end up lousy like all of the other homemade cakes I’ve tried making. I’ve never tried using cake flour before, so I assumed that’s why this would have turned out well, had it cooked properly.
    I also used a cup of boiling coffee, rather than water. I didn’t bother with the “strong” part, though. If water is good enough for the cake, I doubt that the strength of the coffee would have made that much difference.
    Anyway, I will try your substitutions and see if that makes any improvement. If it doesn’t, the ravens will be eating a lot of chocolate cake tomorrow.

    • says

      Hi Stacey – it really is a super runny batter, but a great tasting cake.

      If you have a problem with cakes sticking, trying using parchment paper. Grease the pan, put down the parchment (cut to fit your pan) and grease again. I’ve also had good luck using Bakers non stick spray with flour.

      Bake the cake until it pulls away from the sides of the pan, springs back when touched, and a toothpick insert in the center comes out clean.

      If you’re higher than 4,000 feet, you may need to make a few additional changes. Here’s a guide I use http://cityhomecountryhome.blogspot.com/2010/08/high-altitude-baking-and-candy-making.html

      Have fun!

  7. Wendy says

    Twice, I made the recipe as directed on the container and it sank in the middle badly. The second time overflowed out the pans! It was a disaster! I’m high altitude in Denver. I will try this version next time. I love this cake, but sad it keeps falling in the middle. :(

    • says

      Hi Wendy – since you’re even higher in Denver I would suggest changing the following: 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 2 cups minus 3 tablespoons sugar, 1 cup plus 3 tablespoons milk. All the other ingredients would be the same. Be sure you’re using 9″ cake pans. Please let me know how it goes. Enjoy!

  8. Melanie says

    Hi Barbara! I just found your blog and I love it! I have a question about the Hershey’s perfectly chocolate cake. I live at 6100 feet…should that work with your altitude adjustments? Thanks!

    • says

      Hi Melanie! At 6100 feet you’ll probably have to adjust the recipe even further. As your elevation increases decrease the leavening and sugar a little bit more and increase the liquid a bit more. My adapted recipe is for 3,000 to 5,000 ft. Great question – thanks! Please let me know if you make it.

  9. says

    I’ve always wanted to try this cake, maybe its time I bake it! A friend of mine loves chocolate and every year I bake a cake for her birthday. I should start practicing because her birthday is in less than a month!

  10. Stephanie says

    I just made this cake today and it turned out great! It was so chocolatey, a small slice more than enough for me, i love how moist and decadent cake itself was and the frosting is so creamy!

  11. says

    Hi There, This cake is looking simply AWESOME……! I just loved it and the pictures are lovely too ! Saving this recipe of urs and wud love to give ur version a try on the coming weekend. Have a great day….Sonia !!!

  12. Stephanie says

    This is a really good recipe. I just made this cake tonight and my husband said this is one of the best cakes that I have ever made. For the upcoming PTA meeting I will make this as a sheet cake so everyone will have the chance to try a piece. Absolutely delicious.

      • CP says

        Hi Barbara,
        I recently did this as a sheet cake for my son’s birthday party. My first effort flopped in the middle and still wasn’t cooked after an hour. Then I bought a “heating core” and `voila! Perfect. Also, I called Hershey’s Kitchens and they said to double the regular recipe for 12×18 pan (much less batter than I expected). And reduce the temperature to 325.
        NOTE: the Hershey’s bakers said for 13×9 pans, do NOT increase the recipe or change the temperature.

        • says

          CP – thanks for posting the info on making a sheet cake! Great info. Good to know that a heating core solved the problem and that Hershey’s was so helpful.

  13. says

    I made this on Sunday (with the altitude adjustments) and was so pleased by how “perfect” it really did turn out. Thanks for the inspiration. Everyone loved it as well.

  14. says

    I have always made Hershey’s Black Magic Cake which is wonderful, too! I have seen this recipe a few times and seeing your pictures convinces me I will have to try this next. I actually have to make a cake for a work birthday tomorrow so this might be the cake:-) I think choc/choc was her choice!